Dwarf Fortress Review

Dwarf Fortress reviewed by Jon Bolding on PC.

Infinitely explorable in its complexity and equally rewarding in the depth you’ll find there, this is the quintessential world simulation and building management game. Until now its magnificent worlds have been inaccessible to all but the dedicated few, but this new Steam version is beefed up with lovely graphics and equipped with modern controls, opening the floodgates for a new generation to blissfully drown in its magnificent story engine. What spills forth is a genre-defining masterpiece, proving just how incredible video games can be when a developer has a precise goal and valiantly strives to achieve it, even if the effort takes decades.

Seven Dwarves set out from the Mountain Homes to establish a new colony in a World Rife with Gods monsters and Ancient legends they are short sturdy Creatures fond of drink and Industry in Their Ingenuity they will craft Incredible artifacts face great evils And found a citadel to stand the test of Ages or they'll dig a little too close To a volcano and flood the whole thing With lava that's par for the course in Dwarf Fortress and you can bet I'll be Generating another world to do it all Again either way this modern classic has Been simulating amazing stories of Triumph and tragedy for nearly 20 years Already but its incredible depth has Long been locked behind an accessibility Barrier of ASCII graphics and Arcane Keyboard controls it's a wall that was Worth climbing over but now its Long-awaited steam release has helped Ease that effort with attractive pixel Art and a slew of quality of life Improvements fundamentally enhancing This already amazing aim for a new Generation of storytellers [Applause] Heard these intimidating tunnels Yourself you've almost certainly felt Dwarf fortress's impact developer Bay 12 Games effectively founded the genre We Now call The Colony Sim with it Paving The way for games like rimworld and

Influencing countless others but among Its many successors none can Procedurally generate such a rich world And fill it with interesting characters So reliably as Dwarf Fortress its steam Release finally brings the controls in Line with those descendants too adding Actual mouse support a fully fledged Graphical interface and settings menus Rather than being forced to directly Edit game files the proper mouse support Alone is worth the cost of Entry here And the simple ability to click through The interface is a breeze [Music] Foreign For all that remarkably thorough Improvement Dwarf Fortress is still an Unapologetically complex game its new Tutorial helps towards getting you Started and teaching you how to play but No tutorial could cover a tenth of what You might eventually want to know and Those new to this genre will need Patience this is after all a game where You have separate workshops to spin Thread weave cloth then dye that cloth Before making even a single Dwarven sock It's a game where you'll become an Amateur mineralogist as all good dwarves Are to figure out where in the Geological strata to dig for iron tin Coal or gold you'll somehow learn the Difference between gabro and granite

You'll almost certainly read an article Describing what a corn is one of the Biggest conceits in Dwarf Fortress Is That you can't directly control your Dwarves outside of actively mobilized Military squads you set their Direction In the world but can't make them do a Damn thing to your personal timetable And it's delightful that you can each Dwarf has thoughts memories favorite Things personal skills relationships and Physical traits that affect their Choices they'll make bizarre decisions Because of who they are and the Procedural nature of it all means that Those are sometimes hysterical Frustrating or even poignant everyone Has their own tales of the time a dwarf Went sprinting out into a goblin horde Because they forgot their socks in the Pasture but you're just as likely to see A beautiful story like my two doctors Who got married in the middle of a Goblin attack as nearby patients cried Out in pain and enemies were at the Gates they held an impromptu wedding in The ER officiated by a friend poignant As though they decided that if their Lives were threatened they would rather Die married than apart hilarious because A patient was mid-surgery and everyone Involved was spattered with blood these Stories are everywhere in Dwarf Fortress And finding them as part of play

Notifications let you know that certain Things are happening to fully understand Them you have to read the event logs Look at the history of your dwarves and Spend some time paused just poking Around your fort it's deeply rewarding For players who are curious and Introspective or who enjoy role-playing Their Fortress inhabitants figuring out Why they do what they do [Music] Fortress is a nerd game par Excellence Asking for your attention and Care in a Vast range of subjects there is always Something new to learn a challenge to Attempt or an absurd project to try I Don't find all its complexity scary or Intimidating I find it a challenge I Want to rise to the community's motto Has long been that losing is fun and You'll see players describing doomed Ends that range from poisonous monster Breath to Dwarven Civil Wars as a Potential source of that fun you're here To collaborate with game systems not Fight against them and the fact that Most fortresses end in ruin is simply Part of how you learn the Deep systems Gaining ever more knowledge of how to Survive Dwarven life for next time you Set your own goals here you could make Your fort a hub of crafts and trade Selling carved Stone tchotchkes to The Wider world or instead one where Dwarven

Smiths use the secrets of Steel making To forge an invincible military either Way you'll be building a lot and Construction is an entire sub game on Its own placing fortifications and Workshops is one end of it but so is Making efficient Fortress designs where Dwarves only travel a minimal distance From their beds to their duties it's Especially fun to build devious traps be They classic pits or entire false Entrance ways that open let in attackers And then seal before flooding with water Or magma or maybe mine carts filled with Swords that stop abruptly and fling them Into enemies we call those Dwarven Shotguns one of my favorite challenges To build around comes when you open up The large monster-filled Caverns beneath The Earth opening caves attracts Wandering monster slaying adventurers Who will petition to live in your fort So they can explore the depths which Means you'll probably want to build a Really cool Tavern complete with staff And bards all adventurers need a Tavern After all I love to read the combat logs Of Slayers against Monsters battles may Look like blinking Sprites smashing into Each other on the surface but but diving Into the log of what's actually Happening is great Spears get stuck in Bone limbs are severed and Wounded Warriors slip in puddles of their own

Blood desperate fights come down to Unarmed struggle with one side choking The life out of the other this is Struggle that really means a lot once You get to know the characters in Question sometimes a good day in Dwarf Fortress is fighting off a dragon attack Sometimes it's seeing that one of your Dwarves likes frogs and then making some Frog statues for their bedroom [Music] Of course many of the places where this Vast and beautiful game has flaws are The same as they were before its steam Release so much is going on at any given Time that performance inevitably suffers As Maps grow in size and complexity Building ever larger will inevitably Bring what the community calls FPS death With forts of more than 200 dwarves Rarely sustainable on any but the Beefiest PCS as always generating Smaller worlds and picking smaller Fortress sites helps as is making sure Your dwarves throw their dirty socks Into a magma based Disposal system the New interface also makes a heroic effort But still struggles to contain the sheer Volume of stuff in play dwarves alone Have a dozen tabs in their information Panel and item lists can get quickly Overwhelmed by sheer numbers the updated Controls are pretty flexible at least And let you rebind just about anything

That's a smart player friendly nod to The fact that learning keybinds and Shortcuts will still be important to Make any experience playing Dwarf Fortress smooth for me learning where Every nugget of information is kept and The fastest way to access it is part of The charm you can't love Dwarf Fortress And also complain that it's too Complicated its complexity necessitates Its form you don't buy a Ferrari and Then complain that it requires constant Maintenance to reach its potential poor Fortress is complicated because it is a Machine made by two dedicated Craftspeople over decades tuned for Precisely one purpose to generate entire Worlds and fill them with endless Adventure foreign To play for the rest of my life it would Be Dwarf Fortress because I don't think I'd ever run out of new and fascinating Things to do infinitely explorable in Its complexity and equally rewarding in The depth you'll find there this is the Quintessential World simulation and Building management game until now its Magnificent worlds have been Inaccessible to all but the dedicated Few but this new steam version is beefed Up with lovely graphics and equipped With modern controls opening the Floodgates for a new generation to Blissfully drown in its magnificent

Story engine what spills forth is a Genre defining Masterpiece proving just How incredible video games can be when a Developer has a precise goal and Valiantly strives to achieve it even if The effort takes decades 2022 has been a Great year for games so for more recent 10 out of 10s check out our reviews of God of War Ragnarok or pentiment and for Everything else keep it right here on IGN

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